Matthew's Story

Matthew McCullough, was so touched by the love and care his late mother Sally received while staying at the hospice, he decided to give something back.

Matthew Mc Cullough volunteers his spare time to help at the Northern Ireland Hospice. In the video below, Matthew talks about his volunteering role at NI Hospice.

Matthew said: "My mum had ovarian cancer, and she did pass away in the hospice, but our experience as a family of the hospice was so good.

"We were almost blown away by the people and the place that it was, it wasn't actually a sad place, which surprised me.

"After everything I just thought, I could do this, seeing what some of the volunteers did and the staff I thought I would like to give something back, so that's how it really started for me."

Matthew volunteers every Wednesday evening in the In-patient unit the hospice.

He said: "Usually what it entails for me is just giving tea or coffee and really a lot of the time it's just listening to the patients.

"You'll find that maybe they'll want to chat and they might open up quicker to you that then would to a loved one because they maybe bottle things in.

"Really just wherever you can you be a supporting ear as well to a family member who needs to chat, like ourselves when we were first at the hospice with mum, it's very daunting for people.

"You just have to be there and reassure people without giving them false hope because a lot of people sadly in there are seriously ill, but not everyone goes into a hospice to pass away.

The 46-year-old runs a company called Pro Salon Direct on Crumlin Road, and has ‘fitted out’ the hairdressing salon in the new Northern Ireland Hospice with several thousand pounds worth of equipment, making it a fully functioning hair salon.

This facility for patients is vitally important, but in order for it to function correctly the hospice urgently need qualified barbers and hairdressers to volunteer their spare time.

Matthew is urging those with the skills to help to give up what could be as little as "one hour per month" of their time.

"For the sake of a lot of the time it's just an hour a month, think of the difference you could make to someone's life.

One guy sticks in my head, he was a patient at the hospice and he was getting out to go to a football match and wanted his hair cut, but at the old site there wasn't really the facilities to do that.

"And I just think the difference that could have made to him, if there was someone to come in for just fifteen minutes and shave his head into a number 2 the way he wanted, that would have made such a difference to him.

"Something as simple as a proper hair cut or a blow dry is incredible, the reaction of the patients is incredible, they're so grateful."